In English: Kunskapsförbundet’s international work

Internationalisation for teaching
- Kunskapsförbundet’s plan for internationalisation

Presentation of Kunskapsförbundet

Kunskapsförbundet is a local federation that since 1 January 2013 is responsible for the management and development of the business operations that make up Trollhättan and Vänersborg municipalities’ options for secondary school and Adult Education. The aim in creating this federation is to ensure the good long-term conditions for education and support for student development.

The federation is governed politically, through municipal council politicians from both municipalities, lead primarily by a federation director and – with around 650 teachers, headteachers and other staff – educates around 6000 students, fairly evenly divided across secondary and adult education. The teaching is currently run in four large school buildings located in both Vänersborg and Trollhättan, and offers an almost comprehensive range of programmes and types of education.

Kunskapsförbundet’s plan for internationalisation is part of the creation of a common and equal approach to the work on international issues and ensuring the related curricular assignments. According to the curriculum for secondary and adult education, the school must contribute in providing students with an identity related to Sweden, but also to Scandinavia, Europe and the world. In conjunction with participating in international activities, students also gain insight into cultural diversity, preparation for and understanding of a life in a society that has increasingly closer contact across national and cultural borders, as well as valuable international contacts, educational exchanges abroad and work experience in other countries.  This plan will be equally applicable to all our Kunskapsförbundet schools.

Vision

For Kunskapsförbundet to be ‘a factory of dreams’ where everyone can grow and be excited about the future – that is our vision and it provides the level of direction and ambition for the entire organisation. This means that Kunskapsförbundet wants to view itself as ‘a factory of dreams’, a place where everyone is welcome with their dreams, or to get help in formulating them, and gaining the tools to turn them into reality. It may be dreams about a career, a particular industry, or the desire to develop and learn both as an individual and together with others. Kunskapsförbundet wants to be a place that offers the perfect conditions for each individual to grow as a person, aside from the teaching aspect. Just imagine if everyone learning at Kunskapsförbundet felt happy and excited about the future.

Imagine if they can be equipped with hope, self-belief and confidence, in addition to the standard requirements of knowledge and skills.

The purpose of education is for me to become me, so I can truly contribute to my society.

Today it´s a global society so, the purpose of education is to prepare the kids to be global citizens.

(Peter Senge)

Kunskapsförbundet has the vision of creating excitement about the future and motivation for continued lifelong learning in each student in our care, and we have to therefore ask ourselves how this school needs to be like in order to achieve this. Do we believe it is a school based on the idea of creating future citizens who mainly learn to adapt, to be obedient and a sense of duty, where it is essentially time, the classroom, rules, timetables, lessons, tradition and conformity that are key? Or do we believe that it is a school designed around the idea of a future global citizen with a strong sense of personal and social involvement? A school where the starting point is to enable maximum diversity so that each pupil is given the opportunity to be ‘themselves’ as much as possible – to develop and foster their own unique individuality – and with that, the opportunity to contribute to a positive development of our common democratic society and united world. The answer is simple, but it needs us to partly re-learn in terms of our approach to the school’s objectives and organisation, and learn more about what is an engaging learning environment that supports our efforts.

We feel that this is about a better use and development of the students’ creativity, influence, initiative, ability to see context and the bigger picture, self-esteem, the courage to take risks, curiosity and interest, as well as the ability to turn ideas into actions. Essentially, everything that international knowledge, cooperation and exchange is an excellent learning environment for. By taking the curriculum objective of internationalisation seriously, we improve our opportunity to achieve this vision.

Organisation of international work

Within Kunskapsförbundet are resources in the form of principal representatives, headteachers and teachers who hold the role of international coordinators in the various units and form a strategic working group. The organisation showcases expertise as well as many years of experience in international cooperation. As part of the education, the headteacher has specific responsibility for stimulating international contacts, cooperation and exchange.

The aim of the group is to actively monitor and work with the curriculum perspective of ‘internationalisation’. In the federation, the group is tasked with: entering the internationalisation perspective onto the agenda at all system levels. making visible and being enthusiastic about opportunities in the field. enabling activities within the field of internationalisation that can be assumed to enhance the learning. For example, this could be about exchanges, cooperation, broadening horizons, grant requests and networking to create contacts.
following up the activities and – following analysis – developing within the framework of the working group.
In the case that the analysis shows that ‘internationalisation work’ can contribute to local development, i.e. students’ learning and development, it must be highlighted in the school’s systematic quality work and followed within the framework for it. For example, it may concern describing implemented activities such as the language café, LIA and APL in other countries or work with human rights and the effect on the students’ learning.

Aim and objectives of internationalisation within Kunskapsförbundet

The aim of internationalisation in Kunskapsförbundet is to respond to the objectives in our steering document. in the Code of Statutes (SKOLFS 2011:144) of the National Agency for Education, on the curriculum for upper secondary school and (SKOLFS 2012:101) on the curriculum for Adult Education, it states that international contacts and educational exchanges with other countries should be promoted. An international perspective is important to be able to see the actual reality in a global context and to create international solidarity. The international perspective must also contribute to developing understanding of the cultural diversity across the country.

The objective and the school’s responsibility is that each student has knowledge of international cooperation, global connections and can evaluate events from a Swedish, Scandinavian, European and global perspective. In addition, each individual should be aware that all professional fields change in line with technological development, there are changes in society and working life, as well as increased international cooperation, to thereby understand the need for personal career development.

Besides these and the overall EU 2020 objectives for education and training, Kunskapsförbundet has established goals for everyone in Kunskapsförbundet to be given the opportunity to become the best they can be, in a process that creates value, through an international perspective, meetings and contacts. In addition, Kunskapsförbundet must develop a global approach and equivalence to the internationalisation perspective, at all system levels.

Requirements

The need for business intelligence and the exchange of experiences and methods with others is constantly increasing in our organisation. Based on previous experience, we know that our methods can be refined and we need a wider network for queries and challenges we are constantly faced with, both as students and staff.

For Kunskapsförbundet, the term ‘internationalisation’ represents many different concrete activities. This can, for example, mean that students and staff participate in bilateral or multilateral projects, students have the chance to spend an LIA or APL period abroad, participation in the e-twinning project Nordplus, linguistic exchanges or intercultural meetings on home ground during the school day. We are proud of the cultural diversity that our school units showcase, and we stand up for internationalisation in all context, large or small. Our ambition is that each individual student has the opportunity to make some sort of international contact during their education at Kunskapsförbundet.

Expected result

International exchange has been identified as one of the primary success factors for the EU’s growth. Following completion of studies at Kunskapsförbundet, our students will have gained a greater understanding of international relations and connections. The students will also have increased language abilities, a democratic world view and diversity skills which also contribute to an increased degree of employability.

Kunskapsförbundet is at a stage of creating and presenting working models, a basis for understanding and involvement for how the improvement work – such as within the area of internationalisation – is to be implemented. Following the initiation phase, there are implementation, institutionalisation and circulation phases before most in the organisation can be expected to be participatory and contribute to the results development in a positive and effective manner. (Miles, Ekholm & Vandenberghe. Lasting School Improvement. 1987). In terms of time period, school researchers believe that this process – i.e. for a school or school organisation to transform a novelty into a routine – consists of five to eight years (Blossing. Att kartlägga och förbättra skolor. 2012). However, our hope is that the work on creating viable, common and equal internationalisation work at Kunskapsförbundet is able to continue further from this, as each of the different schools in the federation had a rich and systematised internationalisation work system before the creation of the federation.